How does a water softener work? Find out in this video! The water that you use every day can be hard on both you and your house. Using a water softening system helps reduce water contaminants and scale buildup, and also extends the life of your appliances.

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The main disadvantages of hard water are:
It can leave a film of soap scum on your dishes and bathroom fixtures
It can an cause mineral build-up in pipes and appliances
It can reduce the efficiency of heating elements in water heaters
It can promote corrosion
It reduces the lather of soap and shampoo during showers
It makes laundry feel stiffer and look less vibrant

Water is considered hard when it contains large amounts of dissolved calcium, magnesium, iron and other minerals. Water hardness is measured in milligrams per liter. Soft water has a hardness range of less than 17 mg/L. Hard water comes in at 121 to over 180 mg/L.

You can have your tap water analyzed in a lab, but there are visual signs that your tap water is hard. It can leave soap scum behind on sinks and bath tubs, form scale in washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers, humidifiers, water heaters, etc.

That’s where water softeners come into play. They are ion exchange systems, meaning the hardness ions (calcium and magnesium) are exchanged for salt ions. The exchange takes place in a resin tank of the water softener system. Water flows through the resin and comes in contact with the small resin beads which are covered with salt ions, and hardness ions trade places with salt ions. Think of the resin as a magnetic sponge that traps the metals found in hard water.

The only maintenance required is to recharge the resin beads by adding bags of salt to the brine tank. This washing system reverses the process meaning that the hardness ions swap places with the salt ions in the brine tank and excess minerals are rinsed into the wastewater drain.

In my case, we are two adults living in our house and we use approximately 2 bags of salt per month (at 8$ a bag) for a yearly maintenance cost of 128$. Costs vary depending on how many people live in the house, how much water is consumed and the water hardness level in your home.

The main advantages to a water softening system are:
Lower energy consumption by reducing scale build-up in water heaters
You can reduce the amount of soap you need to create lather
Extend the lifetime of plumbing
Silkier feel of water when washing
Softer clothes after washing

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  1. FixItCheap on December 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Decent video, but I’d like to refute your claim about the effects of water heater efficiency. It doesn’t really work this way.

    Electric resistive heating doesn’t really have any waste. It may seem like having a thin insulating layer of mineral on the element would reduce "efficiency", but that’s not quite what happens. It’s a closed system. There’s a certain number of watts going into the element, and the only place for them to dissipate is into the water. But there MUST be some detrimental effects from having all that build-up, right? What really happens, if the coefficient of conductivity or convection drops, the temperature of the element increases. The water does not cool the element as well, but the same amount of power must be dissipated. So, the temperature of the element rises until a steady-state is reached. Basically, if the heat transfer is impeded with increased thermal resistance, the temperature delta between the element and the water will increase until a balance is reached. None of the electrical energy goes missing or gets wasted, however.

    Technically, with an increased element temperature, some miniscule increase of thermal energy will be lost through conduction out the base of the element through the side of the tank. This won’t be significant. The increased element temperature will also accelerate degradation of the element, so you could save some money on replacements over time.

  2. DooMGuy2020 on December 30, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    can you drink tap water softened by the system? won’t it have high levels of sodium? (bad for people on "low salt" diets)

  3. McRonald on December 30, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    No mention about the cost of this softening system.

  4. Tin Man on December 30, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Does it make your water salty?

  5. Susan C. Houghton, dog and folk artist on December 30, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    My unit is almost 17 years old. I went through 3 bags of salt in less than a month and the water isn’t that soft. Should I relplace it rather than spend money to figure out whats going on with it?

  6. John Miller on December 30, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    GREAT INFO 🤙🤙🤙🤙🤙🤙🤙🤙🤙

  7. Roel M. Mata on December 30, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Good video! Thanks!

  8. dean v on December 30, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    what is total cost including installation

  9. Paul Maxwell on December 30, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    A small correction: Hard water contains calcium and manganese, not magnesium. They’re two different things. Manganese will turn your stainless sink black, while magnesium is good for you and desirable. Iron can be found in both hard or soft waster, and is not considered part of the water hardness. Most water softeners, though, can remove up to 3 ppm iron as a side benefit.

  10. D’alexander on December 30, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    So after installing this system is water good to drink or do I need a deferent filter system

  11. Barbara Herrera on December 30, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Your video was very interesting and informative, but you left out the cost for the h20 system?

  12. scott lashbrook on December 30, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    So with this I guess you don’t need to use a cr spotless?

  13. Seamus Casserly on December 30, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Nice video. Do you know what your before and after values for sodium?
    Where did you get your water tested. I’d like to do the same, and check RO too.

  14. Andy Whitehurst on December 30, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Just hooked up my water softener. I live in a 100+ year old home that has galvanized pipes. Most of the pipes are 50 to 80% blocked by build up. working on replacing with pex. That for your informative vid.

  15. Cheems on December 30, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    I’m too poor to know

  16. Jose Gonzalez on December 30, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Best explanation i’ve seen so far. Thank you.

  17. Watts Reacts on December 30, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    I was so dumb not to research this sooner. I live in a rural area and we have a well with crazy hard water that stains white clothes. I never knew they were actually so affordable I ignorantly assumed the systems costed thousands but I’ve seen them from $350 – $800

  18. InFIniteZION on December 30, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    Do these remove fluoride from water?

  19. Curt S on December 30, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    you should be at 0ppm for hardness with some setting changes providing you have the proper equipment

  20. Sonia Manso on December 30, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to ask you if you can drink the water. Is it filtered through the system?

  21. Navneet Yadav on December 30, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for the video!!
    A question though (maybe a silly one), is there any chance if we pass already soft water through a softner, the ion exchange process will make it Hard water ?
    Thanks again.

  22. Nyquil07 Na on December 30, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    What brand water softener do you have?

  23. DANG on December 30, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    @pan theorganizer, would you recommend hooking this up to the pressure washer machine to wash cars?

  24. Cyril Azoulay on December 30, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    Great video. However water softeners decrease the life of the anode rode of your water heater considerably and if you don’t change it every 2 years or so your water heater will start to rust quickly.

  25. Jigish Parikh on December 30, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Great video Pan! Thank you for helping us.

    Going with the assumption you would have a done a lot of homework for this video, I have a couple follow up questions [if you are still reading the comments!]

    1) What are the types of resins on the market that actually does the ‘cleansing’ part and which is better from ‘cleansing’ perspective?
    2) There are 3 key contaminants in the results that you show. Which one is more harmful ? For instance the iron did not reduce much after the system. What if that is actually the more/most harmful of the contaminants ?

    Thank you,

  26. alex gerolami on December 30, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    What a great video!

  27. Nikki Hu on December 30, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    Hi Pan, does whole house water softener work for an more than 50 years old house (pipes)? Thanks.

  28. Javier Rivera on December 30, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    Wshing a car with a water softener with a TDS of 160ppm is enough for a spot free drying OR a De-ionization Filter is needed. The DeIonization Filter lower the TDS near to zero. I own a salt water softener but apparently a DeIonization Filter is needed for a spot free car wash I just can not find enough data to confirm that.

  29. Anthony Lawrence on December 30, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    Does this make a big difference for water spots and washing cars, or is this more for the home?

  30. Serapio Pena on December 30, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    I bought one for my house 🏠
    I love taking a shower in it but is it safe to drink

  31. Backwoods Tuner on December 30, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you so much!!! Looking to buy a house and it had one of these, and you answered all the questions I could’ve thought of!!! Thanks so much

  32. Rick H on December 30, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Great video. I have a water conditioning system but never knew exactly how it worked. I was thinking the drinking water came in contact with the salt but wondered why the water didn’t taste briny. I now understand that the salt tank is just for flushing out sediment from the resin tank. Thanks again

  33. vanessa cazares on December 30, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Hello! Just bought a house with a softener system and it has no salt in it. Should we clean that out first? If so how? Thanks !

  34. Angela Flow on December 30, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Hi, Pan what is your opinion about Kinetico systems. Regards from Tampa.😘

  35. Whiskey And Mojo on December 30, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    it took a while to get our salt ratio set. It was turned down because salt was always in our water after it backwashed. After it was turned down too much there wasn’t quite enough so it was turned up a little bit. Now I’m back to flushing lines for a minute after it backwashes. Not really a problem though. It’s worth taking that few minutes afterwards so you don’t get salt into refrigerator water line and have salty coffee in the morning 😂

  36. Robert Brewster on December 30, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Just wanted to comment on the questions in the comments. I’m in the water treatment industry and the best advice I can give is have a certified technician out to your house to test your water and come up with a solution that best works for you. That way you have a company that will stand behind you!

    Kinetico provides the most advanced technology for the longest life and reduced service calls. Systems like shown in the video are great but the resin beads are slowly melted away by the chlorine from the city. I see those last around 5-6 years in the field. Kinetico last around 15-30yrs I pulled one out the other day that was working just wanted to upgrade and it was from 1989!

  37. Shrubchucker on December 30, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    What is hard water? Let me offer you a glass of San Diegos finest

  38. Jason Zh on December 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    How about sodium level with the softer?

  39. Dave O on December 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks! Great job!

  40. Adam DeLay on December 30, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    how much water should I see coming out of line during a regeneration? I have a steady trickel but I’m unsure if it’s normal or if it should be a rushing outpouring of water.

  41. REPENT FAST on December 30, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    That demonic face on the wall who’s really getting me nervous

  42. Andrew Le on December 30, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Great video! I’m new to this system and explained well. So how do you change that "pre-filter?" And what happens if you forget to add salt into that container and it runs dry? Are you supposed to also add water to it or is water added automatically by the other container?

  43. Cihangir Acar on December 30, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Can softened water be used for irrigation purposes.?

  44. Dblood85 on December 30, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    How much does this system cost?

  45. Nick Uliano on December 30, 2020 at 11:23 pm

    You are terrific! I love all of your videos. Thanks for not talking down to us; you have a great way of helping us understand what is going on without making us feel like total dummies because we aren’t pros in the field. I just had a water softening system installed, and I am happy that I did. We have very hard water here in the area where I live in PA; this is something I should have had installed yeas ago. Keep up the good work; your fan base really enjoys your work.

  46. budRYser on December 30, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks for making it so simple! Good vid

  47. Abhishek Sreedhar on December 30, 2020 at 11:25 pm


  48. Ermie T on December 30, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Where can I go to have my water tested in Arizona?

  49. AlfieGee100 on December 30, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    Good Video! One question – Does the system decrease your water pressure? I like a hard shower!!

  50. edwin tongol on December 30, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    Hi sir can I ask advice. I’m edwin from Philippines. I am an owner of one poultry farm and we have problem on our source water we cant pump ground water.
    What we did we just source our water nearby river pump it into reservoir. Filter it but still cloudy. Can you give some suggestions what to do.

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